Archive for October, 2006

Bring on the Acorns

Each year, it seems as if a different tree wins my Best Tree of the Fall Award. There’s a gingko in Home Moravian Church’s God’s Acre that’s a strong contender on the years that I remember to go look at the right time and happen to catch it just right.

Often, I don’t.

Most years the winner ends up being some maple tree that catches my attention repeatedly over a period of days as I go about my life. One year it was a maple behind the Tavern in Old Salem that His Dogness and I walked by every day. Another year, it was a maple on Broad Street in the Washington Park neighborhood that I drove by on the way to work.

This year, the winner, unless some tree I have yet to notice wows the judges, will be a small maple planted along the sidewalk near where I park my car at work. The reds and yellows of its leaves have been particularly vivid, and its spiky branches stick out every which way like the hair on some rambunctious 4-year-old boy. It looks like it’s happy, and, for a moment at least, that makes me happy.

I don’t mind the touch of sadness that fall brings early on. I just don’t like what follows. The coming of cold means that, sooner or later, my toes are going to start complaining about being cold. And, when my toes are cranky, the rest of me follows.

Also the coming of the cold means that I won’t see Mr. Whitfield so much. It’s true that I can go knock on his door anytime, and sometimes I do. But much of the richness of the friendship comes from seeing him out on his porch as His Dogness and I come and go and saying hello or going over for a little visit.Come winter, I might go a day or two without seeing him. One of the pleasures of spring is finding him out on his porch regularly again.

Whenever we go over to say hello, Mr. Whitfield disappears for a minute and returns with a treat for His Dogness.I don’t recall His Dogness ever turning down one of Mr. Whitfield’s treats. I cannot say the same of the food that I offer him. This can be particularly maddening when special treats, such as leftover pot roast, are on the menu.

Some summers back – back in the days before I had air conditioning – I once threw out some meat that he had snubbed under the oak tree out back because I didn’t want it rotting in the trash can. I discovered then that once something is in the dirt, His Dogness considers it a delicacy.

So now, if he turns down meat a couple of times, I go ahead and toss it under the oak tree. Sure enough, when he discovers it, he considers it a four-star find. If his attention is elsewhere as we pass by the tree, he may not notice it right away. So, now that we can count on going out at least once during the night, I sometimes find my groggy self wondering what on earth has caught his attention at 4:30 in the morning.

And then it will come to me. Oh, yes, pork loin au terre.

Mr. Whitfield and I agree that, this year, the oak tree has produced more acorns than it ever has while we have been around. And they sure are coming down. When, there is no wind, it sounds like sniper fire. I hear a pop and then the sound of the acorn whistling through the leaves. When the wind is blowing hard, as it was last week, it can sound like a machine gun.

I keep waiting to be bonked on the head with an acorn. As I’m standing there waiting for His Dogness to eat his pork au terre, I sometimes wonder whether standing in one place increases or descrease my chances for being bonked.

You may be wondering where this is all going. As far as I know it’s not going anywhere. When I started out, I was hoping that it would all come together. But that doesn’t seem to be happening.

That happens with me sometimes with the bedtime stories that I make up as I go along for Sparkle Girl and Doobins. I just start out with Frank the gorilla that doesn’t like bananas or Jerome the giraffe that likes to go driving in the countryside with the top down on his convertible and see what comes next.

Sometimes, to my amazement and delight, it all works out quite splendidly. Sometimes, I find myself scrambling to get out of trouble, such as the time that I had to enlist the help of some beavers to build a dam to save a depressed mountain from being washed out to sea. Other times, we get to the end and not much in particular has happened, and there’s really nothing to be done about it.

So I just say “The End,” and we wait to see what happens the next time.

The End.